The US economist who was due to become the European Commission’s chief competition tsar has lashed out at France after being forced to abandon the role.
Fiona Scott-Morton, who was chosen to take up the position by the Commission, was rejected by French President Emmanuel Macron and his government, with commentators in the country expressing doubts as to whether a former US official should be allowed to take up the role.
Speaking to The Telegraph, the one-time official in the administration of former US President Barack Obama expressed confusion and frustration at being rejected.
“I wasn’t expecting to be hired and fired on a dime,” she told the UK newspaper. “It’s not the way my world works.”
Scott-Morton took particular aim at Macron, and France in general, accusing the country of being closed-minded for spurning her.
“It’s troubling and sad that French society is insecure to the point of rejecting the idea that there could be a principled American who wants to work for Europe,” she said.
Fiona Scott Morton, the controversial American appointee to the European Commission, has backed out of taking up the role amid pressure from French ministers and MEPs. https://t.co/vSbBDC9tc4
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) July 19, 2023
The economist added that it was “unfortunate” Macron seemed to believe that the “country on the front of [her] passport” would determine her judgement in the role.
“That was the sum total of his objection to me at the end of the day,” she said.
“And of course, it’s totally wrong in my case. He probably knows it’s in general a poor way to choose talent for an agency.
“France, and Europe, should be secure enough to believe that they have a job that is attractive to an American.”
Scott-Morton’s remarks have not gone down well in France, with numerous commentators accusing the economist of being petty and hypocritical in her attack on the country.
Dans un grand élan de mépris, d'arrogance et d'absence de remise en question…Mme Scott Morton ne reconnait pas que les US imposent aux chefs économistes (et hauts fonctionnaires) d'être de nationalité américaine 😆😆😆… Reciprocity is fair ! 👍😇 https://t.co/weH1sCEUnT
— Philippe Latombe (@platombe) August 28, 2023
“In a great burst of contempt, arrogance and lack of questioning … Ms Scott Morton does not recognise that the US requires chief economists (and senior civil servants) to be of American nationality,” French MP Philippe Latombe wrote online.
Leftist online magazine Front Populaire accused the American of “tenacious resentment”.
“Pretending to ignore the questions of sovereignty raised by her appointment to the European Commission, Fiona Scott Morton preferred to target France,” it wrote.
French President Emmanuel Macron is barely over a year into his second term but it appears many are already anticipating the end of his tenure. https://t.co/IRIfAE1saF
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 15, 2023